When you’re trying to kick a bad habit, it can seem like the entire world is conspiring against you – suddenly temptation is everywhere! In order to stick to your guns and achieve your goal of avoiding eating out, we’ve put together three tips to help you outsmart temptation and make sure your physical wellbeing wins – every time.
Hack Your Environment
Human beings are creatures of habit. If you’ve become accustomed to eating out 3-4 nights a week, you’re likely not even thinking about that decision anymore – it just happens on autopilot.
One of the first ways to hack your environment in order to help you avoid eating out, therefore, is to interrupt this process. Fulfillment Daily describes this process as situation selection. They explain, “[it] simply means choosing situations where you know there is only a small chance of specific temptations arising.”
So, take a different route home that doesn’t pass by your favorite restaurant. Recycle the takeout menus, make meal-plans, and go grocery shopping so you have meals ready and don’t have the option of eating out or ordering takeout.
Basically, do whatever it takes to interrupt the flow of automatic decisions that end up with you eating food from restaurants rather than at home.
Prepare for the Worst
In an ideal world, as soon as you make the decision to avoid eating out, your cravings would disappear, and you’d magically begin meal prepping. Sadly, we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in the real world, where you arrive home exhausted after a long day, too stressed to cook, and are confronted with an array of delicious foods available on order at a moment’s notice.
So while you should always expect the best from yourself, plan for the worst! Stock your fridge and freezer with healthy prepared meals like those you most often order from your favorite restaurants. Making sure these alternatives are available as a last resort when all else fails means you’ll be prepared to fill your cravings in a healthy way while still sticking to your goals.
When Willpower Runs Out
Studies have shown that willpower and self-control function much like a muscle; use them too much and they become weak and prone to failure. So, if you’ve stuck to your goals and resisted eating out all week, don’t be surprised if you start slipping up when the weekend rolls around.
LifeHack explains, “Human beings naturally like to revert to old and familiar routines that are comfortable to them. So any kind of change or new routine that uses a lot of your focus is tapping into your self-control tank. It takes a lot of focus to master new routines, or even to overcome our everyday feelings and impulses. That’s why at the end of the day, especially days that are filled with a large amount of newness or stress, our self-control tank can be low on fuel and we are more likely to feel exhausted and drained.”
Thus, one of the most important tools in your quest to avoid the temptation of fried foods is to monitor your reserves of willpower. If you’re exhausted, irritable, hungry, tired, or having intrusive thoughts, it’s a fair bet that your levels of self-control are low. This is not the time to start browsing through menus online, thinking you’ll be able to resist the delectable meals on offer – even if you were able to a few days ago. Make safe choices, and don’t expose yourself to any undue temptation.
Resisting temptation certainly isn’t easy, but it is simple. When you understand how your mind works you can nimbly work around your worst impulses, correcting the course and eliminating poor decisions just by making a few sneaky tweaks to your environment.
In the end, the payoff is more than worth it. Avoiding eating out improves your health, saves money, and gives you the satisfaction of providing your body with the healthy fuel it needs to perform its best.